Monadnock Ledger Transcript – Peterborough wildebeest expert Richard Estes has died


Monadnock Ledger Transcript

Published: 12/22/2021 2:40:16 PM

The internationally renowned wildebeest expert Richard Estes from Peterborough died on December 6th at the age of 93.

Estes was considered one of the world’s leading experts on the migration patterns of the Serengeti. He studied the animal kingdom of Africa for decades, authored three books – “Behavior Guide to African Mammals”, “The Safari Companion” and “The Gnu’s World” and was co-author of “The National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife”.

“Being with him while he was watching animals was like a sacred experience,” said Hancock writer Sy Montgomery, a longtime friend of Estes who accompanied him on safari in 2016 to follow the wildebeest migration, and documented the experience for a book. “He knew the enormous width of [wildebeests’] Impact on the entire Serengeti ecosystem. They are the engine of the most iconic ecosystem in Africa – and Dick was the man who knew more about them than any other person who has ever lived. “

Estes graduated from Harvard University in 1950 and then studied ethology at Cornell, where he began his African wildlife research and eventually moved to Tanzania to study wildebeest in the Ngorongoro Crater. There he discovered many secrets of the wildebeest; It was there that he met his wife Runhild, who both married in 1964.

He continued his wildlife research for many decades while moving to Peterborough with his family in 1981.

“He was wonderful company,” said Elizabeth Marshall Thomas of Peterborough, another writer and long-time friend who accompanied Estes on safari to Africa. “It was fun to be with him. Smart, funny – just a wonderful person. “

Estes was a founding member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Antelope Specialist Group and the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation.

“Through decades of arduous, meticulous, yet joyful field research, Dick may have understood the ebb and flow of life better than anyone,” wrote RSCF Director Paul Reillo. “Documenting the great wildebeest migration – one of nature’s most impressive life cycles – has undoubtedly given Dick wisdom about the holistic nature of nature and the integral role of humanity. I have come to appreciate that this understanding has inevitably evolved over time from caring to responsibility to responsibility. “

As a member of the Peterborough Conservation Commission and founding member of the Monadnock Conservancy, Estes has done his part in conservation work at the local level. His love for the animal world reached far beyond Africa; Montgomery said he could mimic virtually any bird call and have the birds respond or bark while talking to a dog.

“He loved the fact that he could communicate with the animals,” said Montgomery.

Estes leaves behind his wife Runi, children Lyndon and Anna and granddaughter Lehna.

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